Reminding people what it feels like to do good
For three years, people had an opportunity to “buy” a cup of coffee in return for a good deed at the local Dobrokáva coffee cart. Together with his baristas, Libor Hoření has given over 30 thousand coffees in return for a promise to donate blood, send a text message donation or simply call and check in with your grandma. And what made him do that? Among other things, the following quotation from the book, The Dalai Lama’s Cat: “It is a wonderful paradox that the best way to achieve happiness for oneself is to give happiness to others.”
Libor is very successful at doing business, you know. That’s one of the reasons why he decided to invest the extra money he earns into improving his karma… Well, in fact, into improving the environment and the world around him (even though Libor definitely deserves the better karma as well!). He’s the founder of the biggest Czech cooking portal, TopRecepty.cz, and invested into the Nesnězeno app, which helps reduce food waste. And at the young age of 26, he realized that life isn’t only about money.
Just find the right way and the money will arrive
What motivated you to do business when you were still so young?
Primarily, I wanted to do a project of my own to remain free, as freedom is the greatest and most crucial value for me; if somebody has their freedom taken from them, they are in fact no longer responsible for their life. And I realized that we were spending a major part of our lives working. I didn’t want to have to ask when I can take a vacation, how much money I can get or what I am supposed to do. I wanted to find my own role, which was website design.
As a young boy, I was already interested in Photoshop and coding, so I decided not to work for anybody else and establish a project of my own instead. In the beginning, I didn’t see any money in it at all and I became only a passionate creator. I would come home from school already thinking what modify or draw and where. I used to give work to my schoolmates in high school; my new role totally absorbed me, and for me, the money that arrived later was only a by-product or bonus.
Did you have any role models to inspire you?
My parents don’t do business at all, and I was really just searching for something I’d enjoy. I attended a lot of after-school activities, played football, handball, table-tennis… I was trying to find out what it meant for me to get completely absorbed in something, what it felt like to look forward to something and wake up passionate to go to an after-school club. Then I found it when I started attending after-school classes on coding and design.
You keep mentioning that you’d like to live a useful life. What exactly does that mean for you?
Being useful is about asking myself whether what I’m doing contributes to something larger. Like the Dobrokáva project – is it useful for me personally? Absolutely. I really enjoy this project, receive a lot of excellent feedback, and it’s useful for me. And is it useful for my partner and my family? My partner is proud of me, just like my family; it earned all of us a good reputation. Is it useful for other people around me, my friends and acquaintances? Sure, they share it, enjoy it, and pay the good deeds forward. And is it useful for mankind? Yes, it inspires people and even made some of them establish their own non-profit organizations. It’s inspired them to do good deeds and break some kind of barrier, for example when they were afraid of donating blood but gave it a try thanks to Dobrokáva. It reminded them of what doing a good deed feels like. I think it’s useful on every single level, starting with me and spreading out into the world around me.
Imagine a man, say a truck driver, who does his job to earn money: is it useful for him? Yes, he earns money that way. But is it useful for his family, or his physical and mental health? If you think about these questions honestly, you can find answers, no matter if you are a coder or a dressmaker.
Other businessmen in the Czech Republic have been inspired by Libor’s project as well:
Dobro.tv is a podcast series doing interviews with people who try to change the world around them for the better.
Dobroboards are billboards showing quotations and motivational texts that, at the same time, improve the mood of those who drive or pass by.
Jan Bleha organizes events called Dobrovíkendy where the participants spend weekends helping others to work in orchards, chop wood for nuns in a monastery in Austria or help build a Celtic open-air museum.
Tereza Jurečková is in charge of successful Pragulic start-up in Prague where homeless people share how they see the Czech capital. Inspired by Libor, she established Dobroskříň, a wardrobe that anybody can add clothes to for others to take and wear.
On a related note, what do you think about issues with workaholism and overworking?
I think people who work for 12 hours a day and even boast about being overworked just need to feel useful. They are afraid of how people would judge them if they were only working 5 hours per day. What every person needs deep down is to feel useful. However, people who work like that can’t continue it forever – their body is going to make that fact very clear to them. This may work for a short time, sure, but these are the people who later give lectures on how they burnt out and say “Don’t do what I did!”
An opportunity for every new businessman
What do you think about #brnoregion as an environment to do business?
I think it’s a good environment for ideas to be born in, thanks to its youthful and friendly atmosphere. Every teahouse organizes meaningful meetings, discussions, brainstorming, mindfulness workshops – you name it. At the same time, there’s a great breeding ground for business, such as JIC, Impact Hub, Mash-ups, competitions like Nastartujte se (Get Started)… There are lots of opportunities mainly for people starting out in business. At least that’s what I notice, because it’s the environment I spend time in. Almost every student establishes a company to see if doing business is the right thing for them. They have several platforms available here to help them find a good idea, validate it, find a solution, and try to release it in just two months, such as Podnikni to (Go Do Business), which is an excellent tool to try doing business quickly and inexpensively.
Why do you think #brnoregion is a good place to live?
Brno isn’t big enough to be packed with tourists. People come take a look at a nice city, but the city isn’t designed just for tourists, which I like. At the same time, it’s big enough to be full of life and interesting people. For me, Brno is the perfect size.
What do you think about your success with Dobrokáva in Brno?
Dobrokáva has been here for three years and we’ve given out around 30 thousand cups of coffee for good deeds. Our aim is to inspire, and I believe we’ve succeeded at that, so now the project can more or less fade out. Now we’ve shifted our focus to a new project named Nesnězeno (Food Not Eaten); this idea was born at the Dobrokáva cart. I like the way ideas give birth to new ideas that then develop on their own.
The Nesnězeno app was originally developed by Michaela Gregorová and Jakub Henni, volunteers from Dobrokáva. They were annoyed by seeing restaurants and shops throw out food they didn’t manage to sell. That’s why they developed a mobile app for people to find current offer of such food that they can get at a discount. This way the food is saved, the businesses earn money, and users save money!
What’s your role in Nesnězeno?
Investor as well as mentor. Our baristas Míša and Jakub came up with the idea while working at Dobrokáva, and I was the one to invest in it. From the very beginning, though, I’ve been trying to contribute more than just money to the project.
And your plans with Nesnězeno?
We’d like to save one million meals; this is a short-term goal, and so far we’ve saved over 20 thousand meals that would have ended up in the trash instead. Now, we’re trying to get more businesses to sell their leftover food through our app at a discount, rather than throwing it away.
Our long-term goal is to deal with the cause, i.e. why meals get thrown out, and we’ve been planning some workshops, seminars, and conferences for owners of restaurants and other businesses. We’d like to inform them how to do this in a better way, and how to plan their food purchases better. Our long-term vision is basically to not exist at all. Once restaurants don’t throw out any food, our app won’t be necessary anymore. Also, we’d like to focus on shops and hotels, as hotels in particular often throw out entire breakfast buffet meals.
Have you managed to stay free, just like you dreamed of?
Definitely. And very free, in fact. What I’ve seen and experienced so far is that what you keep thinking about does, indeed, happen to you. This is impossible to grasp for most people, though. When I look at the businessmen who see their job as hard work to earn all those millions, well, then that job really is hard work for them.
For me, my job is freedom, and then the money starts coming in. It’s only about how I see my job, and that’s why I am free at my job and all my employees are free. I don’t care if they work for two hours a day from Bali or eight hours from Brno. It’s up to them when, how, with whom and what they work on. If they deliver results, they may as well keep drinking piňa coladas on the beach for all I care. When I want to keep my freedom, I can’t take it away from others.